As published at “Moments of Life,” National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization , April 2016
Karen, a long-time Homeland Hospice volunteer, was assigned to visit Mary Frances shortly after she was admitted to hospice services. Mary Frances lived in a skilled nursing facility, and although she had family who visited and the staff were attentive, the hospice Social Worker thought that a volunteer might cheer her days. Little did we know! Karen and Mary Frances became good friends over the year that hospice was in place. Weekly visits varied – wheelchair excursions out to the gardens in the good weather, bingo games, visits to the fish aquariums, lunches together, special homemade treats to enjoy, and mostly just good conversation. Karen is a school teacher, so often her third grade students at Saint Margaret Mary School made cards for Ms. Barna’s “special friend”. And as Mary Frances’ 92nd birthday came close, Karen hoped that a special celebration could honor her friend. The students made cards and planned a program of music and ‘speeches’. The day arrived – with balloons, a cake, family, staff, the students, the school principal and the volunteer. And Mary Frances thoroughly enjoyed it all, even as her health was declining – loving the ‘fuss’ that was being made, smiling brightly at the birthday greetings from the volunteer and her students. What a special day for a very special lady!